Business leaders around the globe, especially the C-suite are grappling with the rapid digitization and the challenges brought forward by the pandemic. The last two years have been a roller-coaster for them – with uncertain business scenarios and stumbling economies. While this year, the rate of infections considerably decreased in various countries – there is still some fear around the Omicron and other mild to severe COVID-19 variants. On the other hand, the ongoing crisis in Europe is impacting adjoining countries and trade relations – affecting the global supply chain.
On the business front, the wave of great resignation and uncertainty around the future of work is another issue that is grabbing the attention of CEOs and CIOs.
With a lot on their plate, CxOs will need to prioritize the most important focus areas in 2022-23 and work on them to lead their businesses toward success.
What are the top focus areas for CxOs in 2022-2023?
We will know this and more through this article.
What are the top priorities for CIOs and CEOs in 2022-23?
- The number of times cloud was mentioned in the Q2 earnings call rose by 11% – IoT Analytics.
A report by IoT Analytics titled – “What CEOs talked in Q2/2022” found that 3% of earnings calls by CEOs discussed public cloud spending and solutions in Q1 2022. In Q2, 2022 the number rose by 11% – emphasizing how CEOs are looking forward to and playing evangelists to increasing cloud adoption and the perceived benefits.
The report also mentioned ‘Recession’, ‘War’, ‘Digital Transformation’, and ‘Industrial IoT’ as other top themes amongst CEOs in Q2 2022.
- 80% of C-suite executives plan to increase their cloud budgets over the next twelve months – EY and NASSCOM Study
In another report by EY-NASSCOM, 80% of the c-suite executives surveyed across verticals said they will increase their cloud budgets over the next twelve months.
Nitin Bhatt, Technology Sector Leader, EY India said “Boards and CEOs are increasingly viewing cloud as a strategic imperative for growth and business transformation. They have realized that simply lifting and shifting workloads for cost reduction and resilience will not automatically transform their businesses and are therefore adopting cloud for benefits such as flexibility, agility, and innovation. They value being able to leverage data and AI on the cloud, enable richer insights and real-time decisions that improve performance and facilitate market differentiation in a secure and trusted environment. To realize transformational value from cloud investments, CEOs must ensure that their cloud strategy is embedded in their larger business strategy.”
The report also mentioned the private cloud as the most preferred cloud model amongst enterprise customers.
With cloud computing being a key discussion point for CxOs in 2022 – there is no doubt that more and more enterprises will start investing in the technology.
- 98% of C-suite executives see cloud as an important factor driving digital transformation – AWS C-Suite 2022 Report
The AWS C-Suite report is a study comprising 1,500 executives in 15 markets across 10 industries and 14 c-level roles.
The report also highlighted the initial resistance to migrating to the cloud and how pandemic and M&As (mergers and acquisitions) led to the adoption of cloud technologies.
Other barriers to cloud adoption include dependency on legacy systems, change-resistance work culture, operating under heavy regulations, lack of digital expertise, and the right pool of talent.
Business leaders must formalize the right cloud adoption strategy for successful cloud migration. They must focus on adopting the right mental model – a future-oriented one and capitalize on the cloud as an enabler.
2. Digital Transformation
The word digital transformation has become the norm in almost every industry today – from IT, automobiles, and manufacturing to healthcare and government bodies. The pandemic has undoubtedly been a catalyst for widespread and accelerated digital transformation across various industries.
- 77% of CEOs reported that the pandemic sped up their companies’ digital transformation plans – Deloitte
Satya Nadella, CEO of Microsoft, too mentioned this during one of his keynotes – “We’ve seen two years’ worth of digital transformation in two months”.
“Think of digital transformation less as a technology project to be finished than as a state of perpetual agility, always ready to evolve for whatever customers want next, and you’ll be pointed down the right path.” Amit Zavery, VP and Head of Platform, Google Cloud.
- 69% of US business leaders say that digital transformation has made strategic differences between IT and finance more pronounced – Apptio
However, the C-suite also believes that there is still a reluctance amongst enterprises to fully embrace digital transformation. A study by Twilio highlighted the major barriers impacting their journey to digital transformation.
This is true for the government sector CIOs (Chief Information Officers) as well who are facing various non-technical barriers to digital deployment in their agencies as highlighted by the research firm – Gartner.
To overcome these challenges, CIOs will need to clearly lay down roles and dependencies within the organization and establish decision-making principles. They must also work closely with other C-suite roles to identify digital transformation opportunities within the organization and focus on improving employees’ digital dexterity.
The last few years have seen escalating impact of cyberattacks across different industry verticals and organizations of all sizes. Unlike popular belief, cybersecurity is not just the concern of the IT department anymore, but the entire organization. It is a threat to ongoing business continuity, financial stability, and reputation.
- 94% percent of CxOs believe it is probable their companies will experience a significant cybersecurity incident in the next two years. And while 65 percent of C-suite executives are highly confident their cybersecurity plans are well established, only 17 percent are actually “cyber secured” – demonstrating the highest degree of preparation. – IBM
The C-suite now needs to work closely more than ever to control the cyber risks of their organizations. There needs to be a mindset shift – cyberattacks need to be taken as a risk to the organization to allow better prioritization of cybersecurity investments. This includes considering people, value chain, governance, reporting, and oversight when talking about cybersecurity instead of just technology. CEOs need to identify the most important assets and take measures to protect them against any cyber threats.
- 84% of C-level executives say they had been targeted by at least one cyberattack in the past year, with phishing attacks again being the most common (54%) – Forbes
When talking about cybersecurity, the C-suite needs to consider themselves vulnerable to cyberattacks too. Whether it is by hacking social media channels of highly visible executives to impersonating identities online, threat actors are continuously targeting the C-suite to cause a data breach and find a way into the organization.
If you’re looking to read more on how to protect your privacy online, here is what experts recommend.
- More than 60 percent of CEOs globally say they expect a recession in their primary region of operations before the end of 2023 or earlier – C-Suite Outlook 2022 survey
The above statistic is from a survey of 750 CEOs conducted by the Conference Board Business Research Group. The survey also found that 15% of the surveyed CEOs believe that they are already going through a recession while 43.3% expect a recession by the end of 2022.
With inflation being at a four-decade high and a shrink in U.S. GDP in the first quarter of 2022 – the concern for recession appears to be serious.
The ongoing crisis in Europe has affected the supply chain between various regions leading to high prices. Global companies like Meta (formerly Facebook) have slowed down hiring processes.
Leading CEOs like Elon Musk have already started advising companies to prepare against the impending recession. In his recent speech during a conference, Musk emphasized maintaining capital reserves for irrational times and to build useful products that deliver value to the end customers.
Tech giant Microsoft too recently announced layoffs as part of its restructuring strategy.
Goldman Sachs’ Chairman and CEO – David Solomon also believe in a 30% chance of a recession over the next 12-24 months.
“There’s a reasonable chance at some point that we have a recession, or we have very, very slow, sluggish growth. That doesn’t mean that that’s definitely going to happen, but certainly, I think that if you’re running a significant enterprise, you have to be looking through a lens with a little bit more caution right now than you might have been when we were sitting here a year ago.”– he told CNBC.
5. Future of work
- The proportion of workers hybrid working has risen from 13% in early February 2022 to 24% in May 2022 – Opinions and Lifestyle Survey
Since the onset of the global pandemic, the workplace has gone through some major transformations. Terms like remote working and work from home etc., are now synonymous with employee benefits and flexibility. Though many companies have opened their doors to welcome back employees to offices, there are still many who are supporting the hybrid work model and leaving the decision of whether to work from home or anywhere else in the employees’ hands.
- The majority (29%) of surveyed executives believe that employees need to spend three days per week in the office in order to maintain company culture – Zippia
Talking about hybrid work and flexibility, Google’s CEO Sundar Pichai wrote on Twitter, “The future of work at Google is flexibility. The majority of our employees still want to be on campus some of the time, yet many would also enjoy the flexibility of working from home a couple of days a week….spending time in another city for part of the year or even moving there permanently. Google’s future workplace will have room for all of these possibilities. We’re moving to a hybrid work week with most Googlers in the office approximately 3 days a week.”
In the same study by Zippia, 83% of U.S. employees wanted a hybrid work model, while 84% cited not having to commute as a top benefit of working remotely.
The c-suite needs to take a careful and well-thought-out approach toward hybrid work implementation in the coming years. They will need to strike the right balance between employee satisfaction and organizational culture and productivity.
A relatively new entrant amongst the key themes discussed this year. Unless you have been living under a rock, the metaverse is becoming popular among enterprises with big technology companies hoping to take the largest share of the pie of the virtual world opportunities presented by the metaverse.
- The metaverse’s total addressable market will be between $8 trillion and $13 trillion – Citi
CEOs and especially the CTOs (Chief Technology Officers) need to identify how metaverse can benefit their organization and help them to stay competitive and innovative.
“It won’t be just one company who owns the space, but rather an ecosystem of partners. CEOs and the C-Suite need to think about the ecosystems they need to be interacting with or even owning, starting with hardware and extending all the way to the players in metaverse financial services. If you aren’t able to discover and keep up with new trends in markets, you could lose revenue streams not only to your existing competitors but also to ones that may emerge quickly and take your markets by storm.” Christian Kroll, Managing Director, Capgemini wrote in an article.
Major customer-focused brands and luxury labels like Gucci, Louis Vuitton, Burberry, and Balenciaga have already started venturing into the virtual space – looking for new markets and improving customer outreach.
Technologies like Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning will play a major role in the development of the metaverse.
Meta’s (formerly Facebook) CEO Mark Zuckerberg has shown his interest in building huge AI systems to drive the metaverse world. He also considers AI as the key to unlocking the advances offered by the metaverse.
“We work on a lot of different technologies here at Meta — everything from virtual reality to designing our own data centers. And we’re particularly focused on foundational technologies that can make entirely new things possible. Today, we’re going to focus on perhaps the most important foundational technology of our time: artificial intelligence.” – he said during the recent Meta event titled ‘Inside the lab: Building for the metaverse with AI’.
Takeaways for the C-suite
- The cloud’s trend is going nowhere. With more and more investments in technology and shifts in customers’ demand for more flexibility and agility – the CIOs will need to work upon strategies to include the cloud in their organizational roadmaps for the coming years.
- With the increase in digital technologies and trends like remote working and BYOD (bring-your-own-devices) to work – the threat of cyberattacks will increase too. CISOs (Chief Information Security Officers) need to work closely with other c-suite roles to align the organization’s policies in-line with data security concerns. The investments in cybersecurity solutions might also rise.
- On the workplace front, the global economies seem to be preparing for a recession, as per the stats we shared. C-suite will need to realign organizational structures and policies to strike a balance between employee satisfaction and safety and organizational culture with a focus on financial stability. The hybrid work trend is here to stay, and it is up to the leaders to decide what works best for their organizations.
- New and emerging technologies like the metaverse are also going to see a lot of talks around them in the coming quarters. Though the metaverse seems to be in a maturity stage, the c-suite needs to identify the opportunities it can bring, as early as possible for an early-mover advantage. Apart from metaverse, other technologies like AI, Machine Learning, automation, etc., might also take a considerable share of the C-suite’s time.
What according to you are the key discussion themes and focus areas for C-suites in 2022-23? Do share your thoughts through the comments section below.